After buying the bureau, dealer Steven Fyfe of Spencelayhs of Cambridgeshire had come for, he then negotiated the purchase of the two very dusty oil paintings.
He said: “I attended a property in Belgravia to collect a 19th century William and Mary-style walnut bureau on stand which was advertised online, and after enquiring if they had any other items that they were considering selling I was quite shocked to see these two pictures.
“Immediately the oils stood out as mid-18th century. I then was told that in fact the paintings once belonged to the sellers’ ancestor, the British illustrator and landscapist Cecil Gordon Lawson (1849-82) who resided at 15 Cheyne Walk, London, and was a neighbour and friend to Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti.”
The paintings, relined in the 19th century by picture restorer George Morrill (c.1812-65), are two views of Venice’s Grand Canal.
Fyfe studied the pictures and completed his own research, eventually attributing the works to a follower of The Master of The Langmatt Foundation Views, an artist now known to be Apollonio Domenichini (1715-70).
(Domenichini was known as the ‘Master of the Langmatt Foundation Views’ after the artist’s seven views of Venice in the Langmatt Foundation, Zurich.)
Spencelayhs will now offer the pictures for £36,000. And of course the 19th century bureau is also for sale – at a price of £1395.
Fyfe added: “To find the bureau on Gumtree is fab but the fact it led me to these fantastic artworks just shows you what’s still out there.”